As Spring starts and days warm up, vines are being pruned, vintages released, and a new property inaugurated. Check out what the Etsell family has prepared for Singletree Winery over the next few months.
New book is a food-lover's guide to British Columbia's culinary rich region
News Angles: Local food guide, explore BC, family fun, places to explore, local farms, road trips, seasonal highlights, new book release, food and drink, Fraser Valley, eat and shop local, gift guide, spring gifts.
Note to Media:
Photo assets for Eating Local in the Fraser Valley and Angie Quaale available: bit.ly/2FX6n41
To schedule an interview with Angie Quaale, contact Amy Chen, 778-998-0036. Preview copy of Eating Local in the Fraser Valley available upon request.
[Langley, BC] With decades of culinary experience in the Fraser Valley, local food expert and author, Angie Quaale of Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store, releases her first book, Eating Local in the Fraser Valley, that celebrates the bounty of Canadian food. Details below.
Book Name: Eating Local in the Fraser Valley
Release Date: May 15, 2018 (Available in Canada)
Retail Price: $29.95 (CAD)
Details: A cookbook and guidebook combined that highlights the best of the culinary scene in British Columbia's Fraser Valley, a region located east of Vancouver and north of the United States.
Pre-Order & Advance Pick-Up: Pre-order from Well Seasoned's online store and enjoy advance in-store pick-up on May 6. Pre-orders for in-store pick-up also receive 10% off. Angie will be onsite to sign your pre-ordered copy of the book.
Save-the-Date: Book launch party at Langley's Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store onSunday, May 6. Angie and select producers from Eating Local in the Fraser Valley will be onsite for book signing. Details to be released.
More about the book:
Featuring more than 70 locally-inspired recipes and 100 culinary destinations in the Fraser Valley, Eating Local in the Fraser Valley invites us to discover the culinary richness of the Fraser Valley that has been built by the dedicated farmers, producers and chefs who live in the region.
This book is not only a celebration of Angie's passion for local food and community, but also a way to connect us to the farmers, producers and chefs that bring food to our tables each day. Angie has opened the door for us to get to know the wonderful array of food and beverage makers that are in the community.
Highlights of the book include, but are not limited to:
- Road trip ideas to visit 100 food growers, providers and a vast array of culinary destinations in Langley, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Surrey, Mission, Pitt Meadows, and Maple Ridge.
- Such as: Local farms and orchards, chocolatiers, bakers, artisan cheesemakers, hidden gem restaurants, farmers' markets, breweries, wineries and more.
- A taste of home: More than 70 unique recipes from the farmers', chefs', and producers' home kitchens.
- Such as: Krause Berry Farms' Bird's Nest Cookies, Township 7 Winery's Lobster Mac and Cheese, Chef Tracey Dueck's Bumbleberry Pie and more.
Open this book and take a road trip with Quaale to the Fraser Valley. From Langley to Abbotsford to Chilliwack, with stops in Surrey, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, and Mission, Quaale will guide you through this undiscovered food-lover's paradise to share stories and anecdotes that introduce you to the people behind them. There's no doubt that you will fall in love with the people and food of the Fraser Valley.
Until May 6: SAVE on all pre-orders of book: "Eating Local in the Fraser Valley" by #food expert @AngieQuaale of @WellSeasoned1. A must read for every #food lover in #YVR. PRE-ORDER NOW: bit.ly/2DIaj3I
Would you like images, an interview, or to learn more? Contact Sujinder Juneja for assistance.
According to the BC Wine Institute (BCWI), BC’s cool-climate grape crop is on track for another excellent vintage this year. Hot and dry conditions in the spring led to the earliest bud break on record and the earliest harvest ever for some wineries in the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan. The low average temperatures and high rainfall allowed BC grapes to have more time to ripen on the vine and to accumulate flavour and aromatic compounds. This contributes to wines that are fresh, complex and balanced with higher acidity that make them versatile food pairings.
On Vancouver Island
Bailey Williamson, winemaker for Blue Grouse Estate Winery in Duncan on Vancouver Island, is expecting another excellent harvest at the Cowichan Valley estate. A strong growing season in April and May, followed by a cooler June and July than the previous year, led to an elongated flowering and fruit set cycle and allowed the grapes to mature and ripen to classic levels. The Blue Grouse harvest started on September 10, beginning with the popular Siegerrebe, an aromatic white varietal which tends to ripen earliest. After that, there will be a break in harvest until the end of September, when the rest of the grapes will be harvested in earnest. Compared to all the vintages since 2012, this year’s harvest started within a week of normal.
In the Fraser Valley
Conditions on the mainland were similar to Vancouver Island. Andrew Etsell, GM and viticulturist of Singletree Winery in Abbotsford notes that with the warm and dry August, the grapes developed beautiful flavours with balanced acids and sugars. Singletree began its harvest on August 25 – one full week earlier than 2015, and the winery’s earliest harvest on record. “We started with our Siegerrebe, which is evolving into one of our most popular wines,” Andrew shares. “We’re also keeping a close eye on our estate Pinot Noir, which we have just harvested for our first-ever estate sparkling wine. Other estate varietals, such as our Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Grüner Veltliner and Sauvignon Blanc, will follow after that. This year’s harvest will not yield as much fruit as 2015, yet the fruit will be clean and very high quality."
In the Okanagan - Naramata Bench
After an unseasonably warm spring, followed by an early summer, Serendipity Winery’s Katie O’Kell was concerned that the harvest would take place much earlier than normal at her estate Naramata vineyard. However, the cooler, wetter weather moved in, which allowed the grapes to mature a more moderate pace.
Serendipity’s harvest started on August 29 with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and continued on August 31 with Viognier. With a dry and cool climate, the phenolics (flavour and aromatic compounds) will eventually catch up to the brix (a measure of potential alcohol) that is currently sitting in the low 20s.
Okanagan – South
Likewise, Lawrence Buhler, director of winemaking for ENCORE Vineyards, which produces wines under the TIME Winery, Evolve Cellars and McWatters Collection labels, is also in the middle of an active harvest. Compared to last year, Buhler and his winemaking team saw a two-day early start to the season on August 17. Harvest has almost been completed for the still whites, with additional harvests to take place in the next two to four weeks for red varietals.
Regarding the balance of the 2016 harvest, Lawrence says the reds are maturing well and the cooler weather is excellent for proper fruit development and sugar accumulation in the berries.
Harry McWatters, president and CEO of ENCORE Vineyards said recently to Global Television, “we had record-breaking temperatures in April and the earliest bud break that I’ve seen in my history in British Columbia. This is my 49th vintage in the wine business and I’ve never seen a harvest this early. What it does is even in the fringe areas, where the grower may be pushing their limit as far as what they’re growing or the amount of crop they’ve got, it gives them a bit bigger window to mature that fruit to its optimum level. It’s a good thing.”
Indeed it is, Harry. And although the wineries – from Vancouver Island to the Fraser Valley to the Okanagan – are right in the middle of an exciting harvest, we already can’t wait to taste the finished wines starting next spring.
Town Hall Brands: Specializing in wine, food and hospitality
Town Hall Brands, based in Vancouver BC, build brands and promotes them. We offer marketing strategy, graphic design, packaging, promotional campaigns and PR, and social media outreach.
Can we help you with a story? If it comes to a story in need in wine, we can help or send you to the right place.
According to general manager Andrew Etsell, visitation at Mt. Lehman's Singletree Winery is up more than 100% over last year. "We're not just busy on the weekends, but every day, Wednesday through Sunday. This is because more and more people, especially from Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, are realizing there's a new winery literally at their back door. Through tastings at trade and media events, along with strong accolades from wine journalists, the word is getting out there about Singletree."
Next up for #winelover-s is the winery's first annual Mt. Lehman Community Social, on Saturday, August 20, from 5:30pm until late. It's a free event for the community to connect, socialize, and come together as one. All are invited to bring a favourite dish to share at a potluck, family-style feast, with the Mt. Lehman Community Association sponsoring live music from Langley's alternative folk-rockers, Prairie Dance Club.
New vintages of Singletree wine will be available for purchase by the glass or by the bottle, alongside craft beer on tap from a local brewery, and other non-alcoholic beverages.
Laura Preckel of Singletree says, "We want to bring old neighbours and new friends together. We're inviting the Mt. Lehman community, their friends and family to bring a dish and to raise a glass with us. It's about giving back to our community through sharing. And what a better way to do that than with a glass of wine?"
Indeed, wine lovers are increasingly adventurous and are not only seeking wine that reflects a sense of place, but are interested in unique vineyard experiences.
"We've been holding more winery events, including our popular concert series, and our (usually sold out) painting parties in the vineyard," says Andrew.
The winery is very foodie and family-friendly. Visitors to the tasting room can purchase specially-selected local cheese, charcuterie, fresh breads and crackers from the wine shop, and take them to its newly-licensed picnic area, where they can also enjoy wines by the glass or by the bottle. It's al fresco dining at its best! Plus - the family lends everyone a picnic basket with glasses, plates and cutlery, to complete the experience. There are always games and toys for kids at the picnic area, and families are encouraged to get up close and personal with the vineyards that surround the winery and tasting room.
"We've also been receiving numerous requests for onsite weddings," continues Laura. "Surrounded by vineyards and farms, with mountains in the background, it's the perfect site for a rustic valley wedding."
Up next for the winery is arguably the most important event of the year... the HARVEST!
The weather in April and May was extremely hot, which gave an early boost to the vines. Although June and July have been slightly cooler than normal, if trends continue, Singletree can expect another great vintage in the Fraser Valley. Bud break started in the first week of March, four weeks ahead of schedule. Andrew is projecting to start harvest in mid-September. This will be about two weeks later than 2015, but still earlier than average vintages. They'll start the 2016 harvest with their popular and early-ripening Siegerrebe ("get siggy with it"), followed by Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, with Grüner Veltliner and Sauvignon Blanc to follow. Andrew is carefully watching his two acres of Pinot Noir, which he will use for Rosé and - spoiler alert - Singletree's first-ever vintage of traditional method sparkling wine.
For more on Singletree, visit www.singletreewinery.com.
By Leeann Froese It’s a new week to introduce you to one of the fabulous personalities in the world #withTownHall!
This does not mean they work as part of our team, or are our client (although sometimes in these posts they are).
We just interact with so many amazing people that we want to expand networks and introduce them to you, and you to them. This week #withTownHall, we introduce you to Maureen Frost.
Town Hall Brands has been lucky enough to get to know Maureen through her attendance at and coverage of client events, especially in the Fraser Valley.
Maureen wrote an excellent article on Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store's cocktail class hosted by Kelly Ann Woods of Gillespie's Fine Spirits. If you need some inspiration I highly recommend you give it a read.
Working with Maureen is easy and she asks intelligent questions that she knows will resonate with her readers, and she holds great enthusiasm for her work. This all shows through in the finished story.
With all of that said about Maureen, will you please give a big hello to her?
by Sujinder Juneja #TownHallOnTour
#FLXWine vs #BCWine
We have been lucky enough to attend the 8th annual Wine Bloggers Conference, a gathering of bloggers (naturally), industry professionals and wine lovers. This year, the event was held in Corning, New York with a focus on the great wines, producers and the people of the Finger Lakes AVA.
A diverse, progressive and passionate industry, the Finger Lakes wine region shares many similarities with that of British Columbia, where we are happy to call home. Here are a few of our observations on the connections between the two regions, for your reading pleasure:
Cool Climate Viticulture
The Finger Lakes and British Columbia are both described as ‘cool climate’ wine regions and on average, share a similar amount of degree growing days. However the Finger Lakes region experiences a highly variable climate, with cold winters, cool to warm summers and a short growing season. While there is diversity of climate within the five main BC wine regions (Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands), the climate is less extreme overall and degree days are higher on average.
Planting Grapes To Site
The most established wine regions in the world plant grape varietals that are best suited to that particular site or climate. The most planted grapes in the Finger Lakes are Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc along with a selection of lesser known Vitis vinifera (Blaufränkisch, Saperavi, Sereksiya Charni), native Vitis labrusca (Catawba, Niagara) and French-American hybrids (Traminette, Vidal, Seyval Blanc, Valvin Muscat) that suit the climate and produce balanced and delicious wines. By contrast, the top white grape varietals in BC are Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon for the reds. Other crosses and hybrids such as Ortega, Marechal Foch and select Blattner Hybrids are also planted to produce successful wines. The Finger Lakes and BC wine industries began with native and hybrid varietals with the belief that they would better suit the climate, but consumer preferences in the Fingers Lakes and British Columbia are favouring the more popular vinifera varietals.
What’s Wrong With Hybrids Anyway?
Nothing. If a hybrid grape is grown on a site which allows it to mature to full ripeness, and in the hands of a talented winemaker, they can produce wines that are both balanced and delicious. It’s worth noting that hybrids sell for significantly less by the ton, compared to vinifera varietals, which can affect a winery’s bottom line. Add to that the fact that hybrids are generally less well-known and often hard to pronounce, and therefore market to consumers. One of the most vocal debates during Friday’s Introduction to Finger Lakes Wine Country panel discussion swirled around the contentious use of crosses and hybrids in the region. Consider this: if a hybrid varietal, developed specifically for a particular climate, can produce tasty wines, should they not be celebrated, granting uniqueness to the wine region as a whole? Not all winemakers are convinced. But if you ask someone like Art Hunt at Hunt Country Vineyards, he’ll tell you that his varietally-labelled Seyval Blanc and Valvin Muscat are among their most popular wines. “Millennials want to try new things,” he says. “You can taste 100 Rieslings from the Finger Lakes, but wine drinkers want experience something unique.”
Judy Wiltberger at Keuka Spring Vineyards is proud to show off her Vignoles, a French-American hybrid that sells out every year. In her experience, the key is to market regionally, get people into the tasting room where people can try the wines in person. 70-75% of her sales are through her cellar door and challenging her guests with distinct varietals is a way to excite their palates with something new.
A Sense of Community
Unlike other more competitive regions in the global wine world, the Finger Lakes and British Columbia both enjoy a strong sense of community and partnership. I know firsthand that winery owners and winemakers in BC regularly collaborate and share information and ideas that make the region stronger as a whole. The same is absolutely true for the wineries of the Finger Lakes. If you had the chance, for example, to taste the Tierce Riesling, made by Fox Run, Anthony Road and Red Newt, you’ll know that the wine – and the wine region – is greater than the sum of its parts.
A Window to the World
The Finger Lakes and British Columbia wineries both face the double-edged sword that most of their wine is consumed in their local areas. The challenge offered by the locavore movement in North America means that major cities such as New York and Vancouver consume most of the wine produced in each respective region. Add to that the high tourism rate that each region enjoys means that most wine is sold via the cellar door, limiting the chance for export and global distribution. What this means is that fewer consumers internationally have the chance to taste the wines and understand what the region is all about. At this point, allocation to outside markets becomes a critical path to increasing the prestige and recognition of the regions as a whole.
With Open Arms
At the end of the day and at the end of this conference, the greatest impression left on us about the Finger Lakes wasn’t the wine. It was the people. It wasn’t just the wineries and winemakers that opened their arms to welcome us, but also the restaurants, shops, hotels and the community at large. From our first day in Keuka Lake, throughout the expertly-organized pre-conference excursion and to the last day of the conference itself, there was an excitement and overall warmth that was impossible to ignore, and wonderful to be a part of. When the wine bloggers visited Penticton, British Columbia for #WBC13 it was a similar experience as well. Community, a sense of place, and the celebration of diversity were as much a part of the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference as they are in 2015.
See you in 2016 in Lodi, California.
What’s Happening this Fall We have been trying to find dates to plan activities for our clients and it has become obvious to us how BUSY the schedule is and everyone's calendar is.
We find the best way for you to know about a client or project is to meet them in person, and the best way to do that is to hold an event, so everyone is hosting something.
We like to use PlanitBC which has a public face as well as an industry planning back end, so we advise anyone who both wants to plan or attend something look there. It's not expensive and helps keep everything in one spot, and then has a way to publicize the events that are public.
For whatever reason, we have found that not everyone is signing up for Planit, so we have gathered everything we know of as of the beginning of August.
Note: this is for planning purposes and will change - check back often.
September 10, Design Event (Story PR)
September 14, Chile Sommelier Challenge (Trade only)
September 15, IVSA New Product Salon (Vancouver)
September 16, Colour BC Fall VQA Tasting (Industry)
September 16, ChefmeetsBCGrape Signature Tasting
September 19, Lilloet Beer and Wine Festival
September 21, Invite Only Trade Wine Event
September 22, Sparkling Wine Event (invite only featuring Town Hall clients Summerhill Pyramid Winery)
September 22, Kate Colley PR Event
September 22, IVSA New Product Salon (Victoria)
September 23, Lifestyle, Fashion, Fitness Event
September 25, Victoria Wine Festival
September 26, Victoria Wine Festival
September 27, Slow Fish Dinner (hosted by Town Hall clients The Chefs' Table Society of BC)
September 27, Victoria Wine Festival
September 30, Lifestyle Event
October 1, Discover BC VQA Tasting (Calgary)
October 1, Lifestyle and Fashion Event
October 5, Town Hall media event-by invitation only
October 5-9, Tourism Vancouver Open House
October 7, Town Hall trade event - by invitation only
October 8, Home and Lifestyle Event
October 15, Town Hall wine media event- by invitation only
October 15, Abbotsford Circle Farm Tour
October 18, CONNECT Food + Drink + Lodging Expo 2015
October 19, CONNECT Food + Drink + Lodging Expo 2015
October 21, Vancouver Magazine Judging
October 22, Vancouver Magazine Judging
October 22, Vancouver Home + Design Show Opening Party (invite only)
October 22, 2nd Annual Tea Sparrow Tea Festival
October 23, Vancouver Magazine Judging
October 26, A Taste of Wines from Italy (Trade)
October 28, Wine, Food & Lifestyle Tasting
October 29, Design & Lifestyle Event
November 7, 26th Annual Fraser Valley Wine Festival
By Leeann Froese As we ease back into our work week after a long weekend to celebrate this great province, we reflect on how it has been a long, warm spring and summer across BC.
Weather, growing conditions, watering restrictions and threat of fire all could impact the upcoming grape harvest, depending on which grape growing region you are in.
Could this be one of the earliest harvests on record in BC? How are things looking so far?
Laura Kittmer, media relations manager at the British Columbia Wine Institute states “It's been a very hot summer in BC this year; many wineries are reporting their grapevines to be about two weeks ahead right now, which could mean early wine harvest.”
We checked in with our clients in different parts of the province for an update, which follows.
Let us know if you need more info, photos, or wish to interview anyone quoted below. Amy @ townhallbrands.com / 604-321-3295
Okanagan - Summerland - Okanagan Crush Pad - Christine Coletta, owner
“At Okanagan Crush Pad we are more than half way into yet another great season in the Okanagan. But as we like to remember, it isn’t over until it’s over, and the next three months are the most crucial to shaping vintage. Will we get those cooler fall days with cold nights that allow for hang time that creates the phenolic* ripeness and natural acidity that we all crave? Or will there be a quick, sharp finish to the growing year that leaves us with high sugars, resulting in wines with higher than normal alcohol levels? Time will tell.
An early spring and unseasonably warm summer has challenged viticulturists throughout the valley. We did not get the typical rainfall we expect in June and the rest of the summer has been dry and hot. A careful watch on irrigation levels has been required.
Bountiful crop sets with large cluster formations and small berry size should result in some excellent wines next year. The early spring start will guarantee that most crops will finish on time and viticulturists will surely be pleased about that. With veraison** starting we anticipate a late September /early October harvest. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that the weather continues to co-operate as we eagerly anticipate yet another outstanding year.
As far as water use goes, vineyards used significantly less water than tree fruits, and vineyards with drip irrigation, even less than vineyards with overhead irrigation. Our home organic vineyard, Switchback Vineyard, used seven inches of irrigation water a year compared to the standard 19 inches. At this point the Okanagan is on water restrictions, but this is an annual occurrence and nothing out of the ordinary as is being experienced in the lower mainland.
From the forest fire situation, there has been absolutely zero impact from fires and smoke in our area. A few people have said on social media that they are concerned that the smoke can impact the harvest. This kind of talk is a little on the sensational side as smoke would have to be within close proximity (not 50 km away) and for an extended period of time (not a day or two) to have any impact on grape quality.”
Vancouver Island - Blue Grouse - Bailey Williamson, winemaker
At Blue Grouse we hope to have drip irrigation throughout the whole vineyard by next season; we have been irrigating where we can, and it shows a marked difference in the vine health.
Smoke has not been an issue for us as the fires are not burning close by or the smoke is blowing the other way.
Our issue is that vineyard labour has always been a huge issue and will be for the foreseeable future. In a small grape growing region it is even more of a challenge because there is no labour pool to draw from: seasonal, foreign or otherwise.
Very often we pick the grapes based on disease pressure, and hope for phenolic ripeness. At this moment the extreme heat has given way to more seasonal averages which could very well have us harvest a bit early, but not super early. If the rain holds off and the grapes are a week ahead of usual we could be picking in the sun rather than the rain. This would be a great boon for both quality and morale.
I generally don't like to count my chickens before they hatch, and Mother Nature always has a trick or two up her sleeve, so I am cautiously optimistic, and hopeful."
Okanagan – Naramata – Serendipity Winery – Judy Kingston, owner
“At Serendipity we are lucky that there are no water restrictions on agricultural properties in the Naramata bench.
The smoke cover here was far less than in most parts of the province, almost to the point that it was less than normal. We had maybe five days of smoke, and the kind of smoke damage that CedarCreek and St Hubertus had in 2003 is not anticipated at this time. That was a rare occurrence.
We have seen few if any 40 degree days on the Naramata bench, we had a few that were kissing 40 degrees. The south valley has seen a few. We haven’t seen the vines shut down yet, but we have in past seasons. At this point, veraison is just kicking in, showing up in our Pinot Noir field and our Syrah field. Southern regions have veraison in full-swing.
Everyone needs to take a reminder that grape vines are one of the most adaptive species out there. They can withstand stress or difficult conditions.
This year’s harvest looks great. We knew at the beginning of the season that it was going to be an early start to the growing year and a hotter year, so we have taken measures to make sure that the grapes mature properly and not too quickly. Without careful farming practices, there could be a risk that the brix*** accumulate in the berries faster than the phenolics do. This year’s harvest could be fantastic, but it is impossible to say how the harvest is going to be until the grapes are in the press. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
We look forward to picking the Pinot for bubble in the last week of August. Katie is looking forward to harvesting in shorts and a tee shirt, as we anticipate harvest for our regular table wines to start in early September, well ahead of schedule.”
Fraser Valley - Singletree - Andrew Etsell, viticulturist
"This year has the potential to be the best year I have seen in a decade. The grapes are 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule. At Singletree our Siegerrebe is already at verasion and the lack of rain has made mould a non-issue. This is the first year I have seen the Fraser Valley grapes keeping pace with the Okanagan. The only issue I foresee is that with so little rain our tonnage will be down from last year, but the quality of grapes will be far superior to what we have seen in the past from the Valley."
Kamloops - Monte Creek Ranch - Galen Barnhardt, winemaker "The 2015 at Monte Creek Ranch season got off to a roaring start, bud break arrived 10 days early and an unbelievably hot start to the summer has pushed us 2.5 to 3 weeks ahead of schedule at veraison. The period between veraison and harvest is the most crucial by far, we are hoping for more moderate temperatures so that phenolic ripeness will occur before sugar levels get too high.
Though there have been many water restrictions in the province, we are fortunate that grapes are quite drought resistant. We practice deficit irrigation within our own vineyards and typically only use 20% of our water license in any given season. We have also been quite lucky and have avoided any smoke taint so far - a bit of recent rain should help matters. If Mother Nature can play nice for another six weeks then we should have a phenomenal harvest."
So there you have it; no one has a crystal ball, but things are looking good so far for the 2015 BC grape harvest.
*Phenolic - are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in grapes, which give a wine its profile; includes tannins that occur in grape skins, seeds and stems as well as other complex chemical compounds that will help to define a wine’s character
**Veraison – a grape-growing term meaning when the grapes change colour – the onset of ripening in the grapes.
***Brix – the measure of sugar